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Alumni Spotlight

Brothers Adam ’22 and Daniel ’23 Ali are aiming to reach the highest level of competition in endurance racing while studying the sciences full time at the University of Toronto Mississauga.
They credit UCC for assisting them in handling both challenges simultaneously.

“We realized as we got into racing more and more that it’s tough to make high-level athletics and academics work together,” says Daniel. “We had to be organized and disciplined, and our UCC education helped us a lot with that.”

The Alis got involved with racing as youngsters when their father purchased a race car. They went with him to the track regularly and fell in love with the sport, the speed and the skill involved. To get the boys started, he took them to Mosport, a track north of Toronto, to learn to race with Go-Karts. They eventually made the transition to racing cars. 

The brothers now race in the LMP3 class, only two steps below the highest level of endurance racing worldwide, but their eventual goal is to drive in the Hypercar class (LMP1), the top class of endurance racing. They compete for different teams: Adam for EuroInternational, an Italian team, and Daniel for RLR Msport, a British team. From April to October, they race in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS), the highest level of endurance racing in Europe and second worldwide. In the winter, they travel to Asia for the Asian Le Mans Series of races (ALMS). In-between travelling abroad for races and training, they return home to Mississauga to attend classes and spend time with their family.

The Alis chose endurance racing because it is more compatible with their career plans.

“For us, academics are first,” says Adam. “There is only so much faith you can put into a goal in sports. Injuries are always possible.”

Endurance racing is unique because time is the race descriptor, not distance. Races range from four to 24 hours, but, thanks to partnerships — another unique feature of the sport — the driver doesn’t spend the entire race in the cockpit of the vehicle. The professional driver has an amateur partner — or two — with whom to trade off. (Adam and Daniel are the professional drivers for their respective teams.) The amateurs are usually older professionals who have money to invest in the team and the training and love the thrill of the sport. Together, participants combine to drive the entire race, with the pro doing the bulk of the work.

“Daniel and I like this approach because we can step back from racing, pursue our careers, then return to racing,” says Adam. “We’re not looking at the sport in terms of making a living.”

Adds Daniel, “For people in other sports, when you’re past your prime, you can’t return at a professional level. Years from now, we’ll be able to come back.”

Nonetheless, they plan to compete until their studies require more time; at present, racing has its own demands. They follow a healthy diet that keeps them energized. They also train on the track and in the gym, because fitness is important to be able to handle the long stints behind the wheel and the G-forces to which driving fast subjects their bodies. 

“There are many events where I’ve lost close to 10 pounds due to the physicality that comes with driving,” says Adam. “Closed cockpit cars can get really hot and driving for that amount of time is extremely demanding.”

The pair has yet to reach their peak performance, although Adam and his teammate won the final ELMS race last season. After finishing second in the championship, they are eager for more.

“It was nice to finally be the best for a race,” he says. “There was a whole season of work by our team that went into that. It’s a big accomplishment.”

The brothers appreciate the encouragement they received from the College as they pursued their ambition.

Says Adam, “UCC supported us, including being amenable to all of the IB projects we did that were racing-related!”
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